The Odd Wife

Monday, January 17, 2005

I Have a Dream...

My grandparents, now deceased, were bigots.

They were born of that time in the South where it was perfectly okay to use horrible derrogatory names to refer to a person of color.

I remember vividly a story my grandparents would tell in mixed company.

They used to take me on frequent trips, long drives up north to visit relatives. On one trip, we stopped at a rest stop and my grandparents sat for a picnic lunch and set me loose to run. Several moments later, to their astonishment, I came running towards them - little pigtails fluttering in the summer sunshine, holding hands with two small black children. They would tell this story as if I had actually been playing with little green aliens from the moon.

I never saw their color. I only saw friends.

Growing up, I was oblivious to the differences. I once had a best friend who was "of color" and I adored her. I would spend hours watching her groom herself, asking what each step was for. Why the lotion, why the oil, why the comb. I miss her. She was so lovely and kind to me, even though the other kids were scared to death of her (she was VERY tall and strong). She took a liking to me the day she offered me a cigarette in front of school (she was actually trying to tease me) and I smiled and said 'No, thank you'. She loved my polite response.

When I entered high school, things were a little different. The black students were to be "feared". They developed a reputation for hating the white students thanks to a fairly large group of troublemakers. They were loud, they were aggressive, they were looking for a reason to fight you. I remember getting into a confrontation with a group of the girls who wanted me to get off a payphone so they could make a call. I told them I'd be finished in a minute and they got very nasty with me, making threats. I mouthed off right back, the genius that I was. My friends' jaws all dropped. I think they began to plan my eulogy right then and there. Nothing happened, but the worry was there.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr had a dream and I do too. I dream of a world where we can embrace the things that make us different, but not use them to rank our value or the value of others to the world. I dream of a world where it's okay for people to be proud of their heritage and culture without using it as a weapon. I dream of a world where color or culture doesn't separate us, but rather gives us the opportunity to see how truly special we all are.

Take a second to pay tribute to a wise man... and consider your own thoughts on the subject.

Posted by Red :: 1:55 PM :: |
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